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Lenin, Vladimir Il f ich 

Essay on religion by 

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ESSAY ^ ^ 

ON 9****' 2 ' 

RELIGION 



BY 



LENIN 

With An Introduction 
by 



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Editor's Note, 



After the failure of the Coup of June 3rd 1907, 
the Workers* movement in Russia grew weaker 
from j ear to year, in 1907 there were 700,000 regis- 
tered strikers as against 1,108,000 in 1906 and 
2,863,000 in 1905, while in 1908 there were only 
176,0C0 and in 1909 64,000. The proletariat seemed 
to be crushed for a long time to come. From that 
time up to the revival of the workers' movement in 
1912 reaction ruled eyery where. 

In the elections to the Duma in the same year 
various parties contested and got elected. There 
were a few Bolsheviks as well.* On the other hand 
the check given to the revolutionary movement oast 
disillusion everywhere. Talented writers and serious 
thinkers revived idealist philosophy. Former Social. 
Democrats destroying what they had once destroyed 
preached a return to religion, if not the established 
Church. Even Maxim Gorky ! and ..unacharsky 
preached a religion without God which was none 
the less a withdrawal from Materialism. " God is 

all that is human in the supreme power Let us 

worship the energies of humanity " wrote Luna- 
charsky. 

Plekhanov made a bitter attack on them, Lenin 
followed with his refutation in a Book form — " Ma- 
terialism and Empirio-criticism." Yet the question 
of the Social Democratic attitude towards this revival 
of religious thought demanded clarification. 

And this essay was occasioned by the preliminary 
debate on the speech to be made in the Duma when 



( 2 ) 

the discussion on tu3 Budget of the Holy Synod- 
wa* opened. The Draft Speech of Surkov, the spi 
kesman, contained a passage which clearly state j 
that they were atheists Some speakers objected to 
this statement on the ground that such declaration 
would be detrimental to propaganda work. 

So to avoid all conflict and give a correct lead 
this essay was written in Paris by Lenin. 



««.?.«»>-»■' S ^ m 



I 



INTRODUCTION. 

The Socialist Literature Publishing Company is 
publishing the essay by Lenin . expressing his views 
on the problem ' How to eradicate religion V I am 
asked to introduce this work by Com. Lenin to the 
Indian publio in general and socialist in particular. 

In India the problem of eradicating religion is of 
special importance. India has been a country of 
religious polemics for centuries. "What is more is 
that the religious bickerings in India have grown 
these days and particularly under the Domination of 
the British Imperialism to such an extent that we 
are confronted periodically by communal riots at 
every crossing. The mosques and temples form gene- 
rally the vanguard of the communal riots. Thus reli- 
gion in India, though by bourgeois thinkers is raised 
to the realm of abstraction forms the shield to save 
the Imperialist and Colonial bourgeoise. Further 
more it acts as a curtain which hides class-struggle* 

For this reason it is an important problem before 
the Anti — Imperialist movement in India— How to 
fight religion and eradicate it. 

Leninism is the only correct and scientific ( be- 
cause based on allembracing dialectic materialism 
of Marx ) theory of the World Anti-Imperialist 
Movement. 

Leninism is the only correct method of fighting 
all forms of Imperialist cum capitalist domination. 



( 4 ) 

The public in general and the socialist will I hope 
come to hold this view alL.tb&jRpre reading this essay 
by Lenin. 

Comr.le Boy recently in a Hindi paper describing 
Marxim said that it is a principle which is always 
developing As regards Indian Marxists he criti- 
sed them for being 'parrot like crammers of certain 
Marxist oatchphrases ' He rather criticised them for 
what Lenin called 'ossifying' Marxism, for their dog- 
matism and so on. Comparing Europe and India he 
pointed out that Marxism formed an essential part of 
European idealogy, while in India it is not so. Exp- 
laining the reason for this he points out that Marx 
directed the limelight of his theories on sll old think- 
ing and this is the reason why Marxism forms an 
essential ingrediant of European thinking. Similarly 
he asks Indian marxists to explain all oldlndian ideas 
in the light of Marxism and he considers this their 
main task But what does the whole come to? The 
concrete struggle of the proletariat against the bour- 
geoisie is left in the background, is neglected and this 
is said to be the task of the Indian Marxists. 



No Marxists Leninist considers the struggle of the 
socialists on the ideological front as negligible Educa 
-tionsl bocks, throwing Marxist light on Indian out- 
look by examining Indian thought of old, are neither 
harmful nor superflous. But writing such books and 
discussing such topics in the abstract alone is surly 
not our main task, This is pure scholasticism such 
educational propaganda should indeed be ' subordi- 
nated' to the fundamental task, which is to develop a 
class struggle of the exploited masses against the 
exploiters as Lenin remarks. 



( 5 ) 

All marxists and Leninists know the importance 
of the theoretical struggle but they do not lose sight 
of the two main forms of struggle i. e. the eoonomie 
and the political struggle against the capitalist Im- 
perialist domination. 

As early as 1874 Eageis in hi* introduction to the 
Peasant War in Germany pointed out the strength and 
invincibility of the German Labour Movement in the 
concentric attack — in the struggle 'being so conducted 
that its three sides, the theoretical, the political, and 
the practical economic (resistacce to the captalists), 
form one harmonious and well planned entity ' 

As early a^ 1902 in 'What is to be Done? Lenin 
pointed out) the necessity of the theoretical strug- 
gle. But Marx, Engels and Lenin were far far away 
from scholasticism 

This essay by Lenin clearly throws light on the 
relative importance of the theoretical and the practi 
-cal stuggle as well. It also lays down the scientifie 
view on religion and eradicating it. 

Since the problem of eradicating religion in parti 
-cular and the question of theoretical struggle and 
and its relationship with the practical struggle forme 
a fundamental point at issue at the present juncture 
I feel greatest pleasure in introducing this essay by 
Lenin which embodies the most scientific view on 
these questions. 



E^say on Religion 

The speech delivered in the Duma by deputy 
Surkov during the debate on the estimates of the 
Holy Synod, and the discussion of our Duma fraction 
on the draft of this speech, raised a question of ext- 
reme importance, particularly at the present time. 
Interest in all questions connected with religion has 
been aroused among wide circles of ll society," among 
the ranks of the intellectuals who stand close to the 
Lobour movement, and also among certain sections of 
the workers The Social-Democrats are therefore 
obliged to explain their attitude towards religion. 

The philosophy of Social-Democracy is based on 
scientific socialism, i, e., on marxism. As marx and 
Engels frequently declared, the philosophic basis of 
Marxism is dialectical materialism, which has absor 
-bed the historical traditions of eighteenth century 
French materialism, and of Feuerbach in Germany 
(first half of the nineteenth century) — a materialism 
which is absolutely atheistic and strongly hostile to 
all religion. Let us remember that the whole of 
Engers Anti-Diihring, the manuscript of which was 
read by Marx, convicts the materialist and atheist 
Duhring of inconsistency in his Materialism, which 
leaves many loopholes open for religion and religious 
philosophy. 

Let us remember, too that in his work on Lud- 
wig Feuerbach, Engels reproaches the latter with hav 
ing fought against religion not in order to destroy it, 
but in order to revive it, to create a new ' 'higher" 
religion etc. "Beligion is the opium of the people," 
said Marx, and this thought is the corner-stone of the 
whole Marxian philosophy on the question of religion. 



( 7 ) 

Marxism regards all modern religions and churches, 
all religious organisations as organs of ,bpurgeois reac 
•tion, serving to drug the minds of the forking olass 
and to perpetuate their exploitation. 

At the same time, however, Engels frequently con 
-demned those who, desiring to be more "left" or 
more "revolutionary" than Social-Democracy, attemp 
-ted to introduce into the programme of the workers' 
party a direct profession of atheism in the sense of 
declaring war on religion. In 1874, speaking of the 
celebrated manifesto issued by the Blanquist refugees 
from the Commune, who were living in exile in Lodon 
Engels described their clamorous declaration of war 
upon religion as stupid and stated that it would be 
the best means of reviving religion and retarding its 
death. Engels accused the Blanquists of failing to 
understand that only the class struggle of the workers, 
by drawing the masses into class conscious revolution 
-ary, practical work, can really liberate the oppressed 
masses from the yoke of religion; to proclaim war 
on religion as a political task of the workers' paty is 
merely to give utterance to anarchist phrases. In 
1877, in his Anti-Diihring, Engels ruthlessly criticised 
the slightest concession that Duhring made to idealism 
and religion, and with equal ruthlessness condemned 
his pseudo- revolutionary idea of suppressing religion in 
socilist society, "To declare such a war on religion," 
said Engels, "is to out- Bismarck Bismarck, t. e., to 
repeat the stupid struggle conducted by Bismarck 
against the clericals (Bismarck's notorious kultur 
kampf in the '70's of the last oentury against the Ger 
-man Catholic Centre Party, by means of police per 
•secution of Catholicism). By this war, Bismarck 
only succeeded in strengthening the postion of mili 
•tant Catholicism and in damaging the cause of "real 
culture," for he emphasised religious instead of politi 



( 8 ) 

•cal divisions and ihereby diverted the attention of 
certain working class and democratic elements from 
the immediate tasks of the revolutionary, class strug- 
gle to the most supeificial and false bourgeois 
anti-clericalism Engles charged Duhing, who de- 
sired to appear ultra-revolutionary with wish- 
•ing to repeat the stupid tactics of Bismarck, and 
called upon the workers' party to devote its attention 
to organising and enlightening the proletariat as a 
much better method of attacking religion than an 
adventurous political war against religion. This 
point of view was adopted by the German Social 
-democrats who, for example, were in favour of allow 
•ing the Jesuits to reside in Germany and of repeal 
-ing all police measures directed against religion. 
The celebrated point in the Erfurt programme (18yi) 
which declared that ''religion was a private matter," 
decided *he political tactics of Social-Democracy on 
this point, 

These tactics having become a matter of routine 
are now giving rise to a new distortion of Marxism 
in the very opposite direction, in the direction of 
opportunism. The principles of the Erfurt programme 
are now being interpreted by some to mean thar Social 
Democracy, our party, regarding religion as a private 
matter, religion is therefore a private matter for us 
as Social-Democrats, as a party. 

"While he did not directly attack those who advo 
•cated this opportunist view, Engels in 1890 thought 
it necessary to oppose them not in a polemical but in a 
positive form, This he did in a declaration in which 
he emphatically pointed out that Social-Democracy 
regards religion as a private matter in so far as the. 
state is concerned, but not in so far as it concerns 
Marxism or the workers' party. 



( 9 ) 

This is the outside history of Marx's and Engels* 
statements on the question of religion. To those who 
adopt a careless attitude towards Marxism, to those 
who are unable or do not desire to think, it will 
appear a mass of senseless contradictions and vacilla- 
tions; they will say that it is a mixture of ^consis- 
tent" atheism and "connivance" at religion, that it 
wavers, devoid of all principle, between r-r-revolution 
•ary war against god and a cowardly desire to 
"pander" to the religious workers, from fear of scar 
-ing them away, etc. In the literature of the anar 
chist phrasemongers numerous outbursts against 
Marxism in this style can be found. 

Those however who are at all capable of treating 
Marxism seriously and of pondering over its phiJo 
»sophical principles and the experience of interna 
-tional Social-Democracy, will see that the tactics of 
Marxism towards religion were thoroughly consistent 
and were carefully thought out by Marx and Engels; 
and that what ignoramuses and the dilettanti regard 
as wavering is the direct and inevitable deduction 
from dialectical materialism. It would be a profound 
error to explain the apparent "moderation" of Marx 
-ism on the question of religion by so-called tactical 
consideration and the desire not to scare people away 
etc. On the contrary, the Marxist political line of 
conduct on this question is directly connected with its 
philosophic principles. 

Marxism is materialism. As such it is as ruth- 
lessly hostile to religion as was the materialism of the 
Encyclopeadists of the eighteenth century or of Feuer- 
bach. This is incontestable. But the dialectical 
materialism of Marx and Engels goes further than 
that of the Encyclopeadists and Feuerbach in that 
it applies the materialist philosophy to history and 



( 10 ) 

Social scienoe. We must combat religion. That is 
the ABC of all materialism and consequently of Mar- 
xism. But Marxism is not materialism that ha& 
stopped at the ABO. Marxism goes further. It says: 
we must combat religion and to enable us to do that 
we must explain the sources of the faith and religion 
of the masses from the materialist point of view. The 
fight against religion must not be confined to abstract 
preaching. The fight must be linked up with the 
concrete practical class movement directed towards 
eradicating the social roots of religion. Why do the 
backward sections of the urban proletariat, the majo- 
rity of the semi -proletariat and the masses of the pea- 
santry cling to religion ? Because the people are igno- 
rant, say the bourgeois progressives, the radical or 
bourgeois materialists. Consequently: Down with 
religion, long live atheism, to spread atheist views is 
our main task. The Marxist says: That is not true; 

such a view is superficial, expressing a narrow bour- 
geois scholasticism. It is not sufficiently profound, it 
is not materialist; it is an idealist interpretation 
of the roots of religion. In modern capitalist socie~ 
ties the roots of religion are principally social. The 
roots of religion to-day are to be found in the social 
oppression of the masses, in their apparently com- 
plete helplessness in face of the blind forces of 
capitalism which every day and every hour cause 
a thousand times more horrible pain and suffering; 
to the workers than any disaster like war, earth- 
quakes etc. " Fear created the gods." Fear of the 
blind forces of capitalism, blind because they cannot 
be foreseen by the masses of the people, forces which 
at every step in the lives of the proletariat and the 
small traders threaten to bring and do bring " sud- 
den," " unexpected," "accidental," disaster and ruin, 
converting them into beggars, paupers, or prostitutes,. 



( 11 ) 

and condemn them to starvation ; these are the roots 
of modern religion which the materialist, if he 
desires to remain a materialist, if he desires to remain 
a materialist, must recognise. No educational books 
will obliterate religion from the minds of those con- 
demned to the hard labour of capitalism, until they 
themselves learn to fight in a united organised, 
systematic and conscians manner the roots of rehV 
gion, the domination of capital in all its forms. 

Does this mean that educational books against reli- 
gion are harmful or superfluous ? Not in the least. 
But it does mean that the Anti-religious propaganda 
of Social Democrats must be subordinated to their 
fundamental task, which is to develop a class struggle 
of the exploited masses against the exploiters. 

Those who have not studied the principles of 
dialectical materialism, i e, the philosphy of Marx and 
Engels, may not understand (or at all events may not 
understand immediately,) this position What! Sub- 
ordinate ideological propaganda, the propaganda of 
certain ideas, the fight against religion — that age-long 
enemy of culture and progress — to the class struggle, 
i.e. for definite practical aims in the sphere of econo- 
mics and politics? 

But this objection is just one of the many fashion- 
able objections that are raised against Marxism which 
reveal a complete lack of understanding of Marxian 
dialectics. The contradictions which trouble those 
who raise objections of this sort are the contradictions 
that occur in life, i e., they are dialectical, not verbal, 
not imaginary contradictions. To raise an impass- 
able barrier between the theoretical propaganda of 
atheism, i. e., the destruction of the religious faith 
of certain sections of the proletariat, and the succ- 
esses, the progress and the conditions of their class- 
struggle is not dialectical reasoning, but the violent 



( 12 ) 

and absolute separation of that which is indissolubly 
connected in living reality. "We will give an example. 
The workers in a certain district and in a oertain 
branch of industry are divided, we will assume, into 
a progressive section of class conscious Social-Democ- 
rats, who are, of course, atheists, and a rather back- 
ward section, which still maintains contact with the 
rural districts and the peasantry, which believesinGod, 
goes to church and is perhaps under the direct influ- 
ence of the local priest, who, we will also assume, has 
organised a Christian Labour Union. Let us assume 
further that the economic struggle in this district has 
led to a strike. The duty of the Marxist is to place 
the success of this strike in the forefront and to pre- 
vent the workers in the struggle from being split up 

into atheists and Christians. Atheist propaganda in 
such circumstances may be superfluous and even 
harmful, not from vulgar point of view of frightening 
away the backward workers*of losing a seat at the 
elections etc., but from the point of view of the real 
progress of the class struggle, which in the condition 
of present day capitalist society will lead the Chris- 
tian workers to Social-Democracy and atheism a hun- 
dred times more effectively than bare atheist propa- 
ganda. In the conditions described above an atheist 
preacher would simply play into the hands of the 
priests who desire nothing more than that the division 
among the workers as between strikers and blacklegs 
should be substituted by a division between atheists 
and Christians. The anarchist preaching irreconcil- 
able war against God would, in such conditons, actu- 
ally be helping the priests and the bourgeoisie ^as 
indeed the anarchists always help the bourgeoisie). 
A Marxist must be a materialist, that is an enemy of 
religion, but from the materialist and dialetical stand- 
point i e., he must conceive the fight against religion 



( 13 ) 

not as an abstraction, not on the basis of pure theore* 
tical atheism, equally applicable to all times and con- 
ditions, but concretely, on the basis of the class stru- 
ggle which is actually going on and which will train 
and educate the masses better than anything else. A 
Marxist should take into consideration all the concr- 
ete circumstances, should always be able to see the 
dividing line between anarchism and opportunism 
(this dividing line is relative, flexible, changeble- but 
it exists), should take care not to fall into the abstract, 
verbal, empty il revolutionarism" of the anarchist, 
or intu the vulgar opportunism of the petty bourgeois 
or Liberal intellectual who shrinks from the fight 
against religion, who evades this task who reconciles 
himself with the belief in Grod, who is guided not by 
the interests of the class struggle, but by the petty 
pitiful fear of offending, repelliog or scaring off others, 
by the wise precept "Live and let live," etc 

All other questions that rise in connection with 
the attitude of Social-Derm-orats toward religion should 
be decided from the point of view outlined above. 
For example, it is frequently asked whether a clergy 
man may join the Social-Democratic Party, and usua- 
ally this question is answered in the affirmative, 
without any reservations, and reference is made to 
the practice of Social- Democratic Parties in Europe, 
This practice arose as a rsult not only of the applica- 
tion of Marxist dactrines to the Labour Movement, 
but also of the special historical conditions in the west 
which do not exist in Eussia. (We shall refer to this 
later on.) Consequently, an affirmative reply would 
not be correct. We cannot say once and for all that 
a clergyman cannot, in any circumstances, become a 
member of the Social-Democratic Party. But on the 
other hand, we cannot make so positive a reply to the 
contrary. If a clergyman wishes to join us in politi- 



( 14 ) 

cal work, conscientiously carries out party work, and 
does not infringe the Party programe, then he may be 
accepted into the ranks of Social-Democracy, for the 
contradiction between the spirit and principles of our 
programme and the religious convictions of the cler- 
gyman may in the circumstances, remain a matter 
that concerns him alone. A political organisation 
cannot undertake to examine all its members to see 
whether there is any contradiction between their 
views and the programme of the party. But of course 
such a case is very rare even in Europe, and in Eussia 
is scarcely probable. If on the other hand the clegry- 
man joined the Social-Democratic Party and concerned 
himself mainly with preaching his religious ideas, 
then, of course, he would have to be expelled. We 
must not only admit, we must do everything possible 
to attract workers who retain their belief in God into 
the Social-Democratic Party We are resolutely opp- 
osed to offending but we attract them to our Party in 
order to allow them to fight against it. We permit 
freedom of opinion inside the Party, but within cer- 
tain limits defined by the freedom of forming groups. 
We are not obliged to go hand in hand with those 
who advocate views rejected by the majority of the 
of the party. 

Take another example. Can we in any conditions 
equally condemn members of Social-Democratic Party 
who say: "Socialism is my religion," and who advo- 
cate views corresponding to this declaration? No! 
Undoubtedly such a declaration is a departure from 
Marxism 'and consquently from socialism^ but the 
significance of this departure, its weight so to speak, 
varies according to circumstances. Tt is one thing 
when an agitator speaking to a working class audience 
uses this expression in order to make himself better 
understood, as a starting point for the elucidation of 



( 15 ) 

ihis views, adapting his terms to the standard of 
intelligence of his audience. It is quite another 
thing, however, for a writer to advocate "God crea- 
tion" or "God creating Socialism" (like Lunacharsky 
and Co.). To condemn the man in the first instance 
would be petty, would restrict the liberty of the agi- 
tator in the employment of his "educational" methods. 
In the latter example, however the Party's condemna- 
tion is absolutely necessary. For the first formula. 
"Socialism is religion," i3 a form of transition from 
religion to socialism; for the second it is transition 
from socialism to religion. 

Let us now examine the conditions which gave 
rise in the west to the opportunist interpretation of 
the thesis: "Religion is a private matter/' Here, of 
course, we have the influence of the causes which gave 
rise to opportunism generally, the sacrifice of the 
fundamental interests of the Labour movement for 
the sake of momentary advantage. The party of the 
proletariat demands from the state a declaration that 
religion is a private matter, but it does not by any 
means regard the question of fighting against this 
opiate of the people, of fighting religious superstition 
etc., "as a private matter." The opportunists misin- 
tepret the position and make it appear that the Social- 
Democratic Party regards religion as a private matter. 

But in addition to the usual opportunist distortions 
which our Duma fraction totally failed to explain 



( 16 ) 

in their speeches on religion), special historical condi- 
tion have given rise tp the complete indifference of 
Eurjpean Social- Democrats today towards the ques- 
tion of religion. These coditions are twofold. First, 
the anti-religious figit is the historical task of the 
revolutionary bourgeoisie, and the democtratic bour- 
geoisie in the west fulfilled this task to a considerable 
extent during their revolutions or in their attacks on 
feudalism and medievalism. Both France and Ger 
many have their traditions of bourgeois war on 
religion, begun long before the ideas of socialism 
arose (the Encyclopaedists, Feuerbach). In Russia, 
owing to the speciti conditions of the bourgeois de- 
mocratic revolution, this task falls almost wholly 
upon the shoulders of the working class. Petty bour' 
geois (Narodnik democrats has not done too much 
in this respect (as the newly arisen Bla'jk Hundered 
Cadets or Cadet Black Hundreds of the Vekhi believe) 
but far too little as compared with Europe. 

Ou the other hand, the Anarchists, who, as Marx- 
ists have repeatedly pointed out, adopt the bourgeois 
philosophy in spite of the violence with which they 
attack the bourgeoisie, have managed to give a speci- 
fically bourgeois interpretation to the traditions of the 
bourgeois war against religion. The anarchists and 
Blanquists in the Latin countries , Johann Most fwho 
by the by was a pupil of Duhring) and others in Ger- 
many, the Anarchists of the '89'si'n Austria, have carr- 



( '17 ) 

ied revolutionary phrases in the war against religion 
to the very extreme. This is explicable and to a 
certain extent legitimate, but the Russian Social- 
Democrats should not lose sight of the historical 
conditions in the west which brought this about. 

Socondly, after the national bourgeois revolutions 
in the west had come to an end, after freedom of reli- 
gion had be«n introduced more or less completely, the 
question of a democratic struggle aginst religion was 
forced into the background by the fight between bour- 
geois democracy and socialism, to such an extent that 
the bourgeois governments deliberately tried to dist- 
ract the attention of the masses from socialism by 
organising a quasi-Liberal "campaign" against cleric- 
alism. This was the essence of the Kulturkampf in 
Germany and the bourgeois republican war against 

religion among western Social-Democrats was preceded 
by bourgeois anti-clericalism, used as a means for 
distracting the attention of the workers from socialism. 
This, too is explicable and legitimate, for the Social- 
Democrats were obliged to advocate the subordination 
of the fight against religion to the fight for socialism, 
in opposition to bourgeois and Bismarckian anti- 
clericalism. 

Conditions in Russia are altogether different. The 
The proletariat is the leader of the bourgeois demo* 
cratic revloution, The party of the proletariat must 
be the intellectual leader in the struggle against all 
forms of mediaevalism, including the old official reli- 
gion and all attempts to revive or reconstruo it on 



( 18 ) 

other lines. Engels commented with comparative 
mildness on the opportunism for the German Social- 
Democrats who substituted the workers' party's dem- 
and that the state shall declare religion a private 
matter by a declaraiton that religion was a private 
matetr for each Social- Democrat and for the Social- 
Democratic Party; by it is quite clear that the adoption 
of this German misrepresentation by Russian opportu- 
nists deserves to be condemned a hundred times 
more severely. 

Our fraction octed quite correctly in declaring from the 
tribune of the Duma that religion is an opiate for the 
people, and thereby created a precedent which must 
serve as the basis for the speeches of all Russian 
Social-Democrats on the question of religion. Should 
our deputy have gone further and doveloped atheis- 
tic ideas in greater detail ? We think not. This 
might nave exaggerated the significance of the fight 
vrhich the party of the proletariat in carrying on 
against religion; it might have obliterated the divid- 
ing line between the bourgeois and socialist fight 
against religion. The first thing to be done by the 
Social- Democratic fraction in the Black Hundred 
Duma was done and done well. 

The second thing, which perhaps is the most im- 
portant for Social -Democrats — to explain to the 
masses the class role of the church any clergy in 
supporting the Black Hundred Government and the 
bourgeoisie in their fight against the working class 
was also done very well. Much can still be said on 
this subject, and in the subsequent speeches Social- 
Democrats will find material to suppliment the 
speech of Comrade Surkov, Nevertheless, that speech 
was excellent and should be printed and distributed 
to all our Party organisation. 



( 19 ) 

The third thing is to explain in detail the correct 
meaning: of the statement so frequently misinter- 
preted by the German opportunists, namely, 
"Religion" is a private matter.' Unfortunately 
Gomride Surkov did not do this. This is the more 
rearettaoie because in the earlier work .of the frac- 
tion Comrade Belusov made a mistake on this 
question, which was pointed out at the time in 
Proletarii. The debate in the fraction shows that 
the dispute about atheism eclipsed the question of 
the proper interpretation of the famous demand that 
religion be declared a private matter. We will n^t 
blame Comrade Surkov for a mistake that made by 
the whole fraction. Nay, we admit quite frankly 
that the whole party is responsible for this mistake 
in so far as it did not sufficiently explain the 
question and impress upon the minds of Social 
Democrats the significance of Engels's remarks con- 
cerning the German opportunists The debate in 
the fraction shows that the mistake made was due to 
the failure to understand tne question and by no 
means to any lack of respect for the doctrines of 
Marx; we a re |s are that the mistake will be rectified 
in the future work of the fractions. 

"We rpeat that on the whole Comrade Surkov's 
speech was an excellent one and must be printed 
and distributed among the Party organisations. In 
discussing the speech, this fraction showed that it is 
conscientiously fulfilling its Social-Democratic duty. 
It is hoped that correspondence concerning the 
discussions within the fraction should appear more 
frequently in the Party press in order that the 
fraction may be brought into closer contact with the 
Party, that the Party may know of the difficult 
internal work that is being carried on by the f raoti n, 
that ideological unity may be maintained in the 
ctaivities of the Party and the fraction. 



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254 Essay on religion by Lenin 

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